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He's very close to Otho, a tight leech !
Your hand—1 go! Ha! here the thunder comes
Sullen against the wind! If in two angry brows
My safety lies, then Sigifred, I'm safe.
Enter Otho and CONRAD.
Otho. Will you make Titan play the lackey-page
To chattering pigmies? I would have you know
That such neglect of our high Majesty
Annuls all feel of kindred. What is son,-
Or friend or brother-or all ties of blood, -
When the whole kingdom, centred in ourself,
Is rudely slighted? Who am I to wait ?
By Peter's chair! I have upon my tongue
A word to fright the proudest spirit here ! -
Death !-and slow tortures to the hardy fool,
Who dares take such large charter from our smiles !
Conrad, we would be private! Sigifred!
Off! And none pass this way on pain of death!
[Exeunt CONRAD and SIGIFRED.
Ludolph. This was but half expected, my good sire,
Yet I am grieved at it, to the full height,
As though my hopes of favor had been whole.
Otho. How you indulge yourself! What can you hope for ?
Ludolph. Nothing, my liege, I have to hope for nothing.
I come to greet you as a loving son,
And then depart, if I may be so free,
Seeing that blood of yours in my warm veins
Has not yet mitigated into milk.
Otho. What would you, sir ?
A lenient banishment ;
So please you let me unmolested pass
This Conrad's gates, to the wide air again.
I want no more. A rebel wants no more.
Otho. And shall I let a rebel loose again
To muster kites and eagles 'gainst my head ?
No, obstinate boy, you shall be caged up,
Served with harsh food, with scum for Sunday-drink.
Ludolph. Indeed !
And chains too heavy for your life:
I'll choose a jailer, whose swart monstrous face
Shall be a hell to look upon, and she-
Otho. Shall be your fair Auranthe.
Otho. To-day you marry her.
This is a sharp jest! Otho. No. None at all. When have I said a lie ? Ludolph. If I sleep not, I am a waking wretch. Otho. Not a word more. Let me embrace my child.
Ludolph. I dare not. 'Twould pollute so good a father! O heavy crime! that your son's blinded eyes Could not see all his parent's love aright, As now I see it. Be not kind to mePunish me not with favor. Otho.
Are you sure,
Ludolph, you have no saving plea in store ?
Ludolph. My father, none !
Then you astonish me.
Ludolph. No, I have no plea. Disobedince,
Rebellion, obstinacy, blasphemy,
Are all my counselors. If they can make
My crooked deeds show good and plausible,
Then grant me loving pardon, but not else,
Good Gods! not else, in any way, my liege!
Otho. You are a most perplexing, noble boy.
Ludolph. You not less a perplexing noble father.
Otho. Well, you shall have free passport through the gates. Farewell !
Ludolph. Farewell! and by these tears believe,
And still remember, I repent in pain
All my misdeeds!
Otho. Ludolph, I will! I will !
But, Ludolph, ere you go, I would inquire
If you, in all your wandering, ever met
A certain Arab haunting in these parts.
Ludolph. No, my good lord, I cannot say I did.
Otho. Make not your father blind before his time;
Nor let these arms paternal hunger more
For an embrace, to dull the appetite
Of my great love for thee, my supreme child!
Come close, and let me breathe into thine ear.
I knew you through disguise. You are the Arab!
You can't deny it.
Ludolph. Happiest of days !
Otho. We'll make it so.
Ludolph. 'Stead of one fatted calf
Ten hecatombs shall bellow out their last,
Smote 'twixt the horns by the death-stunning mace
Of Mars, and all the soldiery shall feast
Nobly as Nimrod's masons, when the towers
Of Nineveh new kiss'd the parted clouds !
Otho. Large as a God speak out, where all is thine.
Ludolph. Ay, father, but the fire in my sad breast
Is quench'd with inward tears! I must rejoice
For you, whose wings so shadow over me
In tender victory, but for myself
I still must mourn. The fair Auranthe mine!
Too great a boon! I pr’ythee let me ask
What more than I know of could so have changed
Your purpose touching her.
At a word, this :
In no deed did you give me more offence
Than your rejection of Erminia.
To my appalling, I saw too good proof
Of your keen-eyed suspicion,-she is naught!
Ludolph. You are convinc'd ?
Ay, spite of her sweet looks.
O, that my brother's daughter should so fall!
Her fame has pass’d into the grosser lips
Of soldiers in their cups.
'Tis very sad.
Otho. No more of her. Auranthe-Ludolph, come!
This marriage be the bond of endless peace !
SCENE II.— The entrance of Gersa's Tent in the Hungarian Camp.
Erminia. Where! where! where shall I find a messen
A trusty soul? A good man in the camp ?
Shall I go myself? Monstrous wickedness!
O cursed Conrad! devilish Auranthe!
Here is proof palpable as the bright sun!
O for a voice to reach the Emperor's ears !
[Shouts in the camp.
Enter an HUNGARIAN CAPTAIN.
Captain. Fair prisoner, you hear those joyous shouts ?
The king—aye, now our king,—but still your slave,
Young Gersa, from a short captivity
Has just return’d. He bids me say, bright dame,
That even the homage of his ranged chiefs
Cures not his keen impatience to behold
Such beauty once again. What ails you, lady?
Erminia. Say, is not that a German, yonder ? There !
Captain. Methinks by his stout bearing he should be
Yes—it is Albert; a brave German knight,
And much in the Emperor's favor.
I would fain :
Inquire of friends and kinsfolk; how they fared
In these rough times. Brave soldier, as you pass
To royal Gersa with my humble thanks,
Will you send yonder knight to me?
Erminia. Yes, he was ever known to be a man
Frank, open, generous ; Albert I may trust.
O proof! proof! proof! Albert's an honest man;
Not Ethelbert the monk, if he were here,
Would I hold more trustworthy. Now! ....
Lady Erminia ! are you prisoner
In this beleaguer'd camp? Or are you here
Of your own will ? You pleased to send for me.
By Venus, 'tis a pity I knew not
Your plight before, and, by her Son, I swear
To do you every service you can ask.
What would the fairest—?
Albert, will you swear ?
Albert. I have. Well !
Albert, you have fame to lose.
If men, in court and camp, lie not outright,
You should be, from a thousand, chosen forth
To do an honest deed. Shall I confide- ?
Albert. Aye, any thing to me, fair creature. Do,
Dictate my task. Sweet woman,-
Truce with that.
You understand me not; and, in your speech,
I see how far the slander is abroad.
Without proof could you think me innocent ?
Albert. Lady, I should rejoice to know you so.
Erminia. If you have any pity for a maid,
Suffering a daily death from evil tongues;
Any compassion for that Emperor's niece,
Who, for your bright sword and clear honesty,
Lifted you from the crowd of common men
Into the lap of honor ;-save me, knight!
Albert. How ? Make it clear; if it be possible,
I by the banner of Saint Maurice swear
To right you.
Erminia. Possible !-Easy. O my heart !
This letter's not so soil'd but you may read it ;
Possible! There—that letter! Read-read it.
[Gives him a lelter.